Lycaste Orchid

Pronunciation: Lye-CAST-ee

Introduction

Lycaste orchids are very recognizable by their showy triangular-shaped flowers that feature long sepals and forward-facing petals. Each stem has a single flower at the end.

 Lycaste macrobulbon

Lycaste macrobulbon

They produce pseudobulbs that have very thin leaves, and your orchid's stem comes from the pseudobulb's base. They're native to tropical Central America and Mexico.

These are very fragrant orchids that come in bright yellows, pinks, white, orange, green red, and purple. The Lycaste locusta, for example, has the scent and coloring of a Granny Smith apple.

 Lycaste locusta

Lycaste locusta

Temperature

As these are cooler growing orchids, they like both daytime and nighttime temperatures to be intermediate. During the daytime hours, optimal temperatures range between 65°F and 75°F (18°C to 24°C). Additionally, your temperatures shouldn't reach above 85°F (29°C) because these orchids can't tolerate it.

The nighttime temperatures can drop down to between 50°F and 55°F (10°C to 13°C). During the winter months, these plants like even cooler growing conditions, and you want to have your daytime and nighttime temperatures between 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 16°C). 

Light

These orchids like bright light that is broken up by trees or netting. They can tolerate a lot of light, especially during the winter months. You will have to adjust your temperature accordingly when you're giving them more light to ensure that they don't get too warm with the extra sun. 

Start by placing your Lycaste orchid near a window that gets a lot of bright morning sunlight. By the afternoon, your orchid should be graduated to a shadier environment, and it'll avoid the hot afternoon sun. Monitor your plant for signs that it's getting too much light like sunburn on the leaves or brittle leaf edges.

Water and Humidity

You'll want to water this orchid species heavily during the spring and summer growing period. They don't like to dry out, and your potting medium should still be moist when you water them again. You can achieve this by watering them liberally every morning or every other day until water runs out of their pot or basket. 

During the fall and winter months, you'll want to reduce the amount of water you give your orchid drastically. They need just enough to stop their pseudobulbs from shriveling up, and you only need to water them every three to five days. They like 50% humidity during the day and close to 90% to 100% humidity at night. 

Feeding

Any well-balanced orchid fertilizer will work well for this species. You can dilute it to half strength for the best results.

Once your plant starts growing in the spring and through the summer months, you want to feed it once a week, so it has all of the support it needs. When it drops its flowers and goes into its rest period in the early fall and winter months, cut back your fertilizing to once a month until you see new growth forming. 

Potting

Plant these orchids in smaller clay pots to encourage lower temperatures. Your potting medium should be a light but fast-draining mix that contains sphagnum moss to help your orchid retain moisture. If it's possible, get a 50-50 potting medium that contains 50% sphagnum moss and 50% fine-grade fir bark. 

You should repot your Lycaste every year to encourage new growth and to refresh their potting medium. It is a good idea to repot your orchid in the spring, so they have the entire growing season to re-establish themselves. 

Video

Brad of Brad's Greenhouse shows talks about Lycaste orchid care for all seasons. And guess what? He calls them beautiful AND dangerous. Find out why!


More Beautiful Orchids